The Book of Me: Prompt 3 – What I look like

Just as I was heading overseas in early September Julie from Angler’s Rest launched her Book of Me challenge, or perhaps it would be more apt to call it an opportunity to leave a record of our lives for  our descendants. My own plan is to write much of this on a private blog, though every now and then as the mood takes me I will publish my post here as well. I’m jumping the gun and starting with prompt 3 which asks us to describe our physical selves: clothes size, scars, eye colour, hands and fingerprints., and no, you don’t need to know my clothes size!Pauleen 3rd bday crop 1952

There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead”. This certainly described me as a small child but I wasn’t so keen on the implication that I was sometimes “horrid”…but if you can’t beat ‘em, take ownership of the tag if you must!

Check out the freckles.

Cute with freckles, and still fair-ish hair.

As a small child I had curly blonde locks, oh so cute. As I grew older the curls and the blonde disappeared and my hair turned brown and very straight. In an attempt to get the curls to come back I remember Mum took me to a hairdresser in the Valley (upstairs near TC Beirne’s department store) in the hope that the right cut would bring back the wave. Sadly for many years that was not the case, and frankly I hated those haircuts which looked far too boy-like to me, and as if a bowl had been placed on my head and the perimeter of my hair trimmed to match.

Over the years my hair took on a gingery-auburn tinge, not surprising since two of my aunts were “carrot tops” and when Dad was a young man he had black hair and a ginger moustache…..I guess it was my Irish/Scottish gene pool coming through.  Those of a certain age will recall that red hair in a woman was not considered a “good thing” ….come to think of a recent Prime Minister I guess it’s still largely unacceptable.

I think I inherited my hair gene from my Scottish grandmother because it’s very thick, like hers, and when I finally give up on visiting my hairdresser’s salon, it will no doubt be as white as Grandma’s was. At the moment, sans-dye, it would probably leave me looking like the human equivalent of a raccoon, and they don’t even live in Australia. Mum was right – the wave did indeed come back eventually and I have what my friend calls “wash and wear” hair, just as well since I have no patience (and less skill!) for blow-drying and styling.

Pauleen at Greenmount 1969I’ve also made it simple for my descendants to track me through the years. No constant changing of hairstyles and colours for me: whole decades go by with the same style and then regress to an earlier one. Perhaps when I’m 80 I’ll have a basin cut again?

Through my growing up years, my startled freckles were also a feature of my appearance, and even more so when I was sick as those spots just stood out like neon lights against my white face. Mercifully over the years they’ve faded and now aren’t all that apparent though they’ve left me with the propensity for severe sunburn and skin cancers.  Hence the now-faded Zorro-scar that slices its way across from around my mouth across to my ear and down to my jaw line. At the time (nearly 10 years ago now) “they” told me that the surgeon had done a good job…..”yeah right” I thought but indeed it is now largely indiscernible. Either way it was a lucky escape and better than “pushing up daisies”.

Dad low res at schoolFor two thirds of my life I was skinny as a stick with long, lanky legs. Never did I imagine it would be possible to fatten this particular greyhound but sadly I was wrong and no longer do I look like a “long drink of water”.  Throughout high school, when we had to line up for marches etc, we would be arranged by height. This made it super easy for me: I went to the top of the queue where I swapped places year-by-year with the other giraffes, my friends mostly went to the far end of the queue and we idled our time waiting for umpteen others to be precisely altitude-ranked. Have you ever realised how advantageous it is to be able to look over the heads of vast crowds to find your family/friends, or even where you’re going?

Check out the freckles and bi-coloured eye.

Check out the freckles and bi-coloured eye. I look amazingly like my Dad in this one.

I don’t think I’ve started shrinking yet, though I wouldn’t be so sad if it happened to my waistline. Unfortunately I don’t think the red wine and partiality to sweet-treats help (I blame my confectioner great-grandfather!).

When you were a child did people say to you “oh you look like…..”? In my case they’d say “oh you look like your mother” until they saw me with Dad when they’d change it to “oh you look like your father”. My daughter describes my hands “as great big German hands” which I think is rather unkind, both to me and the Germans. Certainly I didn’t inherit my mother’s dainty hands so I guess Dad, and the Scots, Germans or Irish have to be blamed …perhaps it was the nature of their work that did it.

As to my handprints: well there’s been enough scanning of fingers and thumbs by Immigration and Emigration in Tanzania and Uganda to make me feel rather like a convict-in-waiting.

My eyes are a little strange though it’s not immediately apparent. Mr Cassmob’s chat-up line at uni was “did anyone tell you that you have beautiful blue eyes”….pathetic I say, especially as he’d follow it up with saying he hadn’t said it either! For the good reason that my eyes are sort-of-green with one half of one eye being a solid light brown. If that sounds weird I remember a second cousin who had 1½ blue eyes and half a brown….by comparison green and brown looks quite normal….it is one way of getting people to stare deeply into your eyes.

A recent photo taken in Nairobi.

A recent photo taken in Nairobi. I think my haircuts make it easy for my descendants.

As a child I had a very bad habit of chewing my nails which lasted until my early teens. These days when I manage not to break them, and keep taking my calcium tablets, and have/do a manicure, they can actually look rather nice…though I have to say it tends not to last too long. On the plus side I wasn’t too badly plagued with teenage zits and spots so overall I came out ahead.

My dainty feet are the horror of Italian shoe salesmen who (just) refrain from laughing out loud when I ask for my size shoe….the equivalent of “oh no Madam we don’t make them in that size!”. Well they do, but they export them to Australia or America, where they sell for a vast sum of money.

So there I am, a once-blonde, now potentially raccoonish woman of a certain age, with a scar on her face, overweight but still with long legs and a great altitude. And, as they say, I’ve still got my own teeth (thanks to my fabulous Brisbane dentist!), my hair is still wavy (and pretends to be reddish), and I’m not pushing up daisies….I reckon I’m on a winner!

Not sharp but interesting from the background, and those lanky legs.

Not sharp but interesting for the background, and those lanky legs.